Blues Res 1 Man City Res 2 .. IPFreely Reports

Last updated : 08 April 2004 By IPFreely

I think a number of people didn’t know the game was on; certainly some of the mates I normally see at reserve games weren’t there, so if they’re typical then that would explain the poor turn-out. I didn’t see Brucie, so maybe even he didn’t know the reserves were playing. Either that, or he was at Millwall taking one last look at Earnshaw before the bid goes in!

Cisse lasted a record eight minutes before getting booked for pulling someone back. He then proceeded to gift Citeh a goal by dithering on the ball in the ‘d’ of the penalty area, getting dispossessed and leaving Glenn Whelan to sidefoot the ball neatly inside Bennett’s left hand post. 12 minutes gone, 1-0.

Citeh were playing some really nice stuff up front, with Stephen Elliott, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Jamie Tandy all showing very good close control and bags of pace, which was causing quite a few problems for Blues makeshift central defence pairing of Asa Hall and Darren Carter. Hmmmmm, two young midfielders in central defence, against a team renowned for attacking but little else. Perfect.

After about 20 minutes, Citeh made it 2-0. Someone played Tandy inside, cutting in from the wing and Bennett decreed it would be an excellent idea to come out of the 6 yard box for a sprint along the goal line. Halfway there, he changed his mind and decided standing still may be the better option, after all. A somewhat startled Tandy used the time and space this afforded to lay the ball across the face of goal, hotly pursued by Bennett, for Elliott to stroke into the empty net. Actually, this is all a bit unfair on Benno who, other than the goal had a good game and made a couple of good saves.

Tonight’s Comedy Referee was a real purler. A certain Mr Edwards of North Somerset repeatedly provided us with ample proof that being weaned on scrumpy does little for one’s judgmental capabilities. I’d wager that he’s religiously studied every letter and punctuation mark of the Rules of the Game, but sadly has probably gleaned little success when it comes to actually playing the game. He was probably the kid at school who gets picked last in the playground 40-a-side and then has to go in goal. Frankly, I felt for him.

Citeh had some solid physical players in midfield and the ever-odious Tiatto at left back. The general strength advantage was making it difficult for the lighter and younger Blues team to get to grips with things, until…..

Mr Edwards intervened! Stern John fouled the Citeh defender Nedum Onuoha just outside the penalty area. It was quite a bad foul, in my opinion. Onuoha had pretty much got the ball under control when John launched himself into the back of the defender with such force that both players ended up in a heap on the floor. Mr Edwards put down his Blackthorn Extra Strength and decided, to a chorus of laughter from all around the pitch, that this clearly merited a penalty to Birmingham. Stern John, thrilled to realize that, instead of being sent off, he’d actually won a penalty, took it himself and buried it convincingly. 2-1.

Shortly afterwards, a crisp ball from Kilkenny dissected the Citeh defence, sprung the offside trap and found Barrowman unmarked on the penalty spot, with just the goalie to beat. He damned near hit the target – only missing by about three feet. The kid’s starting to find his range. I reckon by the time he’s 27 he’ll force someone into making a save.

Half time presented us with a phenomenal cloudburst, with thunder and lightning. The clouds gathered overhead and the previously clear skies became dark and threatening. It was just like being at Molineux. The rain continued into the second half and lasted for about 20 minutes. Respect to the pitch at Solihull, which for a Doc Martens League pitch, took the soaking extremely well and continued to provide a surface conducive to the passing game that both teams were deploying.

Carter and Hall had sorted themselves out the back, Cisse had calmed down and Kilkenny was beginning to impose himself very well in central midfield. Barrowman was showing some good skills on the left and Citeh’s forwards were all playing well. This was all entertaining stuff. Mr Edwards seemed to have got bored with his whistle and so was letting all kinds of transgressions go unpunished by both sides, most notably when Tiatto dropped young Peter Till with a cracking kidney punch a la Raging Bull. Cisse was having crafty little digs at people and Citeh’s vocal defender Paddy McCarthy was showing us that one day he shall Whinge For Ireland.

There weren’t too many chances in the second half. Wright-Phillips hit the post with a header and Stern John sent a 25-yarder whizzing past the post, with goalie beaten. Defences were generally in charge but that didn’t stop both teams from trying to pass the ball around or through the middle of the back fours. John was subbed by Davion Hamilton who patently struggled with the physicality of Citeh’s defence and looked frustrated. He’ll learn.

The game proceeded to run its course. Manchester decided to play a lot of keep ball whilst Blues’ forward pairing of Barrowman and Hamilton failed to make any impression on their defence. Kilkenny continued to shine and Jamie Clapham got another solid 90 minutes under his belt. Good value, and all for just the cost of two quid for parking, three quid for a burger and fifty pence for a Bovril. Champions League? You can keep it!

Blues: Bennett, Parratt, Clapham, Hall, Carter, Till, Kilkenny, Cisse, John, Barrowman, Motteram. Subs: Doyle, Howell, Blake, Howland, Hamilton.

Man City: Kevin Ellegaard, Nedum Onuoha, Danny Tiatto, Glenn Whelan, Paddy McCarthy, Stephen Jordan, Lee Croft, Joey Barton, Stephen Elliott, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Jamie Tandy. Subs: Matthew Russell, Ashley Timms, Kelvin Etuhu, Michael McGinlay, Sam Williamson.